The Need for High DL Standards Will Raise Standards Across America

Frank B. WithrowBy Frank B. Withrow

American Education is controlled by a strong belief that local control is essential. The legislative authority is vested in state and not federal governments. The federal government does not mandate that state and local communities have a school system. It simply mandates that if there is a school system all children must be free to attend that system.

After the Civil War, the Supreme Court allowed segregated school systems in the South. They were supposed to be separate but equal, but they were not. There were some schools for Afro-American students that were excellent, but the majority were poor with poorly qualified teachers and often either no or outdated textbooks. In 1954, the Supreme Court in Brown vs. the Board of Edcuation ruled against segregated schools. They did not say that a community or state had to have schools; they did, however, say that if they did, all children must be eligible to attend.

Collage. Top: May 17, 1954  Topeka State Journal, with  'School Segregation Banned' across the page - text description: http://bit.ly/topeka-brown. Bottom: quotes from the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, available at http://bit.ly/brown-ruling .

There is a strong belief that local control is the most important aspect of American public schools. However, some communities have larger tax bases and therefore can afford better schools. To offset this inequality, states provide funds to equalize costs among local school districts. However, this does not completely equalize funding across states so the federal government provides compensatory funds. However, even this does not equalize costs. Some states have a significantly larger tax base and consequently a higher per pupil expenditure. Continue reading

Infographics: Problems and Opportunities

Claude AlmansiBy Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues
ETCJ Associate Administrator

There seems to be a new infographic craze, particularly about education and social media. I had been vaguely aware of the term as an annoying pseudo-nerdy buzz word  for a while, when the Swiss satirical weekly Vigousse started running an “Infographie imbécile” (Dumb Infographic) on the last page of each issue in January 2010. For instance:

Screenshot of the Infographie Imbécile in N. 46 issue of Vigousse, with a link to its textual PDF From Vigousse N. 46, January 21, 2011.
©2010 Vigousse Sàrl .Reused by kind permission of the Editorial Board.
While most of the words can be understood by English speakers,
in French, “gag” means “joke,” and “rire jaune” = “to laugh from the wrong side of the mouth.”

Shortly after that January 2011 issue, the “Infographies imbéciles” stopped: possibly because the targeted newspapers got the message and soft-pedaled on infographics. Or maybe the editorial team of Vigousse got bored with doing them. Continue reading

‘YouTube Copyright School’ – Remixed and Mixed Up

Claude AlmansiBy Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues
ETCJ Associate Administrator

In his lecture, “The Architecture of Access to Scientific Knowledge: Just How Badly We Have Messed This Up” (at CERN, Geneva, CH. April 18, 2011), Lawrence Lessig discussed YouTube’s new copyright school. (See 35:42 – 39:46 in the subtitled and transcribed video of his lecture.) The YouTube Copyright School video he showed and commented was uploaded by YouTube on March 24, 2011, then integrated into what looks like an  interactive tutorial, also entitled YouTube Copyright School, with a quiz on the side.

More information about this “school” was given on the YouTube Official Blog in “YouTube Copyright Education (Remixed)” (April 14, 2011):

If we receive a copyright notification for one of your videos, you’ll now be required to attend YouTube Copyright School, which involves watching a copyright tutorial and passing a quiz to show that you’ve paid attention and understood the content before uploading more content to YouTube.

YouTube has always had a policy to suspend users who have received three uncontested copyright notifications. This policy serves as a strong deterrent to copyright offenders. However, we’ve found that in some cases, a one-size-fits-all suspension rule doesn’t always lead to the right result. Consider, for example, a long-time YouTube user who received two copyright notifications four years ago but who’s uploaded thousands of legitimate videos since then without a further copyright notification. Until now, the four-year-old notifications would have stayed with the user forever despite a solid track record of good behavior, creating the risk that one new notification – possibly even a fraudulent notification – would result in the suspension of the account. We don’t think that’s reasonable. So, today we’ll begin removing copyright strikes from user’s accounts in certain limited circumstances, contingent upon the successful completion of YouTube Copyright School, as well as a solid demonstrated record of good behavior over time. Expiration of strikes is not guaranteed, and as always, YouTube may terminate an account at any time for violating our Terms of Service.

Continue reading

What Should Pres. Obama Do About Educational Reform?

Bonnie BraceyBy Bonnie Bracey Sutton
Editor, Policy Issues

[Updated 8.2.10 – links added: “A Blueprint for Reform: The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act”; “In the News: More Opposition to Duncan’s Reform Policies: Defending Obama’s Education Agenda”; “Our Communities Left Behind: An Analysis of the Administration’s School Turnaround Policies.” -bbs/js]

The problem that President Obama is having should be addressed. I think he is between a rock and a hard place in his efforts to change the face of education. What do you, our ETCJ readers, writers, and editors, think he should do?

To post your comment, click on the title of this article and scroll down to the comment box. To start the discussion, here are a few documents that you might want to read:

Valerie Strauss, “Obama, Education, Snooki, Civil Rights and Bryan Bass” (The Answer Sheet, Washington Post, 30 July 2010): The president’s “terribly misguided $4.35 billion competitive grant program is, apparently, more important than health care reform, the economic recovery program, improving the student loan program, increasing Pell Grant payouts, and, well, anything else he has accomplished since becoming president.” Continue reading

Simple Changes in Current Practices May Save Our Schools

Marc PrenskyBy Marc Prensky

Here’s an idea to get at least something positive out of the Gulf oil spill. What if volunteers (or BP, under presidential order) collected samples of the tar balls on the beaches, sealed them in plastic bags, and then shipped them to every school in America for all students to analyze in their science classes. We could even throw in some oil-covered sand and feathers for good measure.

Doing this would involve every school kid (and science teacher) firsthand in the problem. They would see and smell, for themselves, just what the spill is actually producing, rather than just hearing about it on TV. Their awareness, as citizens and scientists, would be greatly enhanced. Continue reading

Easy Captioning for UNESCO’s World Heritage Videos on YouTube

Accessibility 4 All by Claude Almansi

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[Editor’s note: The following message was sent by Claude Almansi to UNESCO workers on 12 June 2010 with the heading “Easy captioning for UNESCO’s World Heritage Videos on YouTube – Demo sample – copyright question.” See the following related articles by Almansi: UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Copyright Committee – 14th Session and UNESCO, World Anti-Piracy Observatory and YouTube. -JS]

Sent e-mail

Dear Workers of the “Section de la communication, de l’éducation et du partenariat (CLT/WHC/CEP)” of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center:

First, congratulations on the remarkable World Heritage video series posted by UNESCO on YouTube, with links to the relevant pages of http://whc.unesco.org. This is a great education tool.

However, I was wondering if you could not caption these videos: for most of them, you already have and offer a plain text transcript on http://whc.unesco.org. So on YouTube, for the videos in English,  it would be enough to add that transcript to the video as a .txt file, and then the YouTube software would automatically time-code this transcript to produce the captions – and an interactive transcript viewing below the video. Continue reading

End of Free Ning Networks: Live Online Discussion: Apr. 20th

Claude AlmansiBy Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues

Ning social networks have been very popular, particularly among educators for whom they meant a free – without ads for K-12 classes – learning environment, with blogs, forums, photo and video galleries, personal pages for members and the possibility to create sub-groups.

But on April 15th, Ning’s new CEO, Jason Rosenthal, announced that they were going to end Ning’s free offer: see Ning Update: Phasing Out Free Services by John McDonald, Ning Creators‘ forum. This is a severe blow,  as there is no simple way to back up a Ning network. Continue reading